one of the things that gives me the most happiness at home is my plants. they add life to our space, they improve the air quality and they make me feel more grounded and calm. i have a whole bunch of them and my knack for buying them doesn't seem to be slowing down so i've become pretty competent at keeping things alive! i thought i'd share a few tips that i've learnt on my path to keeping healthy indoor plants.
1. get to know your plants.
whenever i buy a plant i google it when i get home- yep seriously. if you're a newbie to keeping plants (or have a talent for killing them) its a good idea to find out what they like from day 1! keep a notebook with the species/name of your plants, how much water they like and what environment they prefer (full sun/shade etc.) i often repot my plants and lose the original labels so if i write it down in a notebook i can check the name and look online if it seems unhappy or isn't growing well later down the line..
2. how much to water.
i water my plants once a week and resist the urge to top them up in between as i had a tendency to over water them in the past. plants like cacti and succulents are easy to keep as they require even less watering -strangely this didn't suit me at first and i showed them too much love by watering them until they became soggy and rotted. now I only spritz them with a spray bottle once a week, lesson learnt!
signs your plants need more water:
top soil is dry to touch and cracked.
pick up the plant, if it feels very light it will be dried out.
falling leaves, or curling up with yellow/brown edges.
if the soil is pulling away from the edges of the container it's probably thirsty!
very slow growth.
signs you plant need less water:
mould on the soil surface.
wet roots or excess water in the bottom of your planter.
plant feels heavy or waterlogged when lifted.
brown patches on the leaves
young and old leaves are both falling off.
you can water plants from the top (avoid the leaves) or you can put your planter on a plate/bowl and water from the bottom and let the roots pull up the water. it's usually preferable to water from the bottom up but it's way more time consuming (and i rarely do it unless the planter comes with it's own dish!)
if you have plants that like humidity spray the leaves with a spray bottle and keep them away from draughts. remember most plants like a little extra water during the growing season but in winter you can usually reduce the amount of water you give.
3. give them light
i'll usually have my indoor plants on tables or drawers next to windows where they benefit from the light but aren't punished by the heat. check what type of light your plants prefer- if you plant likes direct sun it'll be great to sit on a window ledge, if it prefers shade it could do well in a hanging planter away from the windows. if they're starting to flag try moving them to a different position, i rotate new or struggling house plants every month or so, i find its the best way to figure out where they're suited! in winter i might move them into a more optimum position for light on dark days.
4. feed and clean
it's only in the last year that i started to actually feed my plants (ooops!) and they do look greener, i simply add baby bio to my indoor watering can every other week during the summer. when transplanting you can add slow release fertiliser.
if you have indoor plants with big leaves like swiss cheese or rubber plants they can become really dusty and clogged. invest in some leaf wipes and give them a clean. remove any dead or dying leaves/stems to encourage new growth!
5. a new home.
i'm terrible at repotting, i had some big plants that were desperately in need of a bigger home and i finally got around to repotting them this summer. since then i've already seen a growth spurt so i should have done it earlier!
if your plants have outgrown their existing pots or you see roots growing through the drainage holes transplant them into a bigger pot. if you don't have drainage holes in your planter or know the plants likes less water add a layer of gravel at the bottom to help prevent them becoming waterlogged (particularly with succulents!)
i'm pretty good with keeping plants these days, some of my plants are 3-7 years old so i can tell when they need a little less/extra water now from experience. i still have my share of disasters though, each plant is different and there are some that i just don't get on well with. i used to have a talent for killing indoor ferns but i've managed to keep all of my newer ones healthy by keeping a closer eye on the soil moisture and leaf colour.. so far so good but i won't count my chickens yet!
if you'd like some recommendations for easy care house plants let me know..